Dirty Chai Snickerdoodles

Guys, it got cold 😦

After an absurdly warm November and December, all good things must come to an end – as the new year countdown hit zero, so has the thermometer…

Guys, I’m a California girl by birth.  I’m not good with the cold.  Think a camel who somehow got lost in the North Pole being chased by a hangry polar bear.  That’s how out of place I feel when the temperature hits freezing point.

On days like these, all I want to do is curl up in my nonexistent king sized bed next to my nonexistent fireplace with a cup of steaming tea and a plate of cookies.  But since I don’t have a fluffy goose-down bed or crackling fireplace (other than that weird Netflix fake fireplace video), guess I’ll just have to make do with combining tea and cookies into one glorious beast.


I’m sorry, did I say make do?  Because these dirty chai snickerdoodles may be some of the best cookies I’ve made yet, at least according to my taste testers.  Even people who self-identified as not being fans of chai went for second and third helpings.  All this despite some crazy difficulties I had making these cookies because IT’S SO FREAKIN COLD – I eventually resorted to mixing everything over the radiator so that the butter wouldn’t keep hardening!


The base for these cookies starts with a recipe by Lisa Poulin featured on the James Beard Foundation website (so you know it’s gotta be good!).  To dirtify them up, I just threw in a teaspoon of instant espresso.  While these cookies taste fantastic just on their own, I also played around with making some espresso-flavored white chocolate chips or ganache drizzle.  While the extra hit of espresso definitely gives an extra dirty punch, plain white chocolate chips would also taste divine.


Throw together a batch of these cookies, and your kitchen will smell amazing.  And with the oven busy, who needs a fireplace?


Dirty Chai Snickerdoodles

adapted from Lisa Poulin

makes about 3 dozen cookies

dairy-free/egg-free/vegan options available

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg or suitable egg substitute such as Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

optional espresso-flavored white chocolate chips/ganache

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso
  1. To make optional espresso-flavored white chocolate: microwave white chocolate chips and oil for 30 second bursts, stirring in between intervals, until fully melted.  Stir in instant espresso.  Set aside to room temperature.  If making chips, spoon ganache into plastic baggie, snip a corner, pipe chips on parchment paper, and freeze for 5-10 minutes until hard.
  2. To make cookies: preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Note – make sure to measure the flour properly, ie scoop into a measuring cup and level off.  These cookies are sensitive to too much flour and are difficult to work with if too dry.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, and instant espresso.  Set aside 1/4 cup of the sugar mixture; this will be for rolling the cookie dough balls in later.
  5. Cream together the softened butter and sugar mixture in a separate bowl using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or a spatula/wooden spoon.  Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
  6. Combine dry and wet ingredients until just incorporated into a nice pliable dough.  If using white chocolate chips or espresso-flavored chips, mix them in now.
  7. Form 1″ diameter balls of dough, roll in the sugar mixture set aside, and place on baking sheet several inches apart.  Flatten the cookies with your hand or using the bottom of a glass.  Note – maybe it’s just because my kitchen was so cold, but the cookies did not spread well so I needed to flatten them to get the proper shape.  Test a few cookies out first before putting in a whole batch to see how things go in your kitchen.  When the weather gets warmer, I’ll try again and update this post with the results.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet for a couple minutes, just until the cookies have set and they are sturdy enough to move to a separate plate/container.  If using espresso-flavored ganache, spoon ganache into a plastic bag, snip off a corner, and pipe over the top of each cookie.Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Nutritional description: again, portion sizing keeps one cookie from breaking your New Year’s resolutions – as long as you don’t eat two or three like I did!  But these cookies are truly worth every calorie.  While having practically no nutritional value, save some cookies as a not too caloric treat for the end of each chilly winter day. (I promise to upload some healthier posts next…)

Nutritional information (calculated without vegan substitutions or optional additions): Calories 114, Total Fat 5.3g, Saturated Fat 3.3g, Cholesterol 18.7mg, Carbs 16.3g, Fiber 0.3g, Sugars 9.5g, Protein 1.2g, Sodium 106mg


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